Saturday, January 26, 2013

Is the segregation of men and women an Islamic requirement? Part 5


Salaam u alaikum warahmatullah, I really like to learn about Islam but don’t know where else to ask. Can you please send all the Hadith pertaining to Ash Shifa bint Abdullah, preferably translated to English. Is it true that she was a market controller? I read that the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) used to visit her house much so she kept a separate mat for him. Can you please cite that Hadith as well? And doesn’t this go against the rules of segregation in our religion? Jazak Allahu Khayr.


Salam dear sister,
Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

The only hadith (tradition) that is classified as hasan ghareeb (sound but strange) was narrated by Ash-Shifaa bint Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with her) where she said:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked about the best of deeds and he said: "Believe in Allah, Aljihad fi sabeel-lillah (struggle in the path of Allah), and hajj mabroor (accepted pilgrimage)" (Ibn Asaker)

There are other traditions that are classified as daeef (weak) so I won't be able to cite those for you. However, I can narrate to you what we know about her:
She became a Muslim before migration and was known to be pious and wise, and among the best of women of her time. The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to rest at her house and she had a bedding for him and an izar which is a piece of cloth to rap around his waste.
She used to be a healer in pre-Islam so she asked once asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) if she could show him how she did it; and he approved of her way and asked her to show the same to his wife Hafsa. (Ibn Mindah)

The grandson of Ash-Shifaa, Abu Bakr Ibn Sulaiman Ibn Abi-Hi'ma narrates that his father did not attend the fajr prayer during the time of Umar Ibn Al Khattab (may Allah be pleased with them); so Umar came to inquire from Ash-Shifaa about her son and she said that he was up praying at night and sleep overcame him; so Umar replied: “It would have been better to pray fajr in congregation than to pray at night and miss fajr.” Umar used to also ask her opinion and requested her to look after some affairs of the market (it was not exactly specified what).

She passed away at the time of Umar on the 20th year of Hijrah (migration).
However, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to also rest at the place of Umm Sulaim. We don't have an authentic narration that he used to rest of Ash-Shifa Bint Abdullah, but if he did someone else must have been in the house, such as her children.
We know for sure from the following hadith with Umm Sulaim that her child was present since he is the one who narrated the hadith:

Narrated Anas bin Malik that the Prophet (peace be upon) entered our house and rested during mid-day (Qailula). He sweated during his sleep, so my mother brought a small bottle and started collecting his sweat inside the bottle. Thereupon, the Prophet (peace be upon him) woke-up and said: "O Umm Sulaim! What are you doing?" She replied: "This is your sweat we mix it with our perfume and it is the best of perfumes; sweeter and better smelling than the perfume." (Muslim, who said it was authentic - Sahih)
This is how much love the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) had for him. There is no known kind or leader whom his followers have loved him more than the love of the Prophet's companions for him (peace be upon him).
So the issue of segregation did not even occur and the Prophet (peace be upon him) would not stay with these ladies if he knew that they were alone.

I hope this helps answer your question.

Salam and please keep in touch.

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